2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SV

2013 Nissan Altima Sedan
2013 Nissan Altima Sedan

First Drive

Advocate WHEELS editor

The Nissan Altima was the No. 2 selling sedan among all nameplates last year. Over its 20-year lifespan, some four million have been sold, making it Nissan’s best-seller. Built primarily in Tennessee, the Altima enters its fifth generation with a completely new design.

Sit still in the car business and people will beat a path not to your door, but right past it. Car companies are launching lots of new models, and Nissan is no exception. The Tennessee-based company plans four new upcoming models in addition to the Altima. The just-launched Pathfinder and Sentra, as well as a hatchback and a crossover to be named later, are in the pipeline.

The Altima competes in the midsize sedan category, which is arguably the most hotly-contested group in the auto industry. It is available in seven models: 2.5, 2.5 S, 2.5 SV, 2.5 SL, 3.5 S, 3.5 SV and 3.5SL.

If mileage is one of the top reasons people choose a vehicle, the 2013 Altima 2.5 has the advantage with its estimated 38 miles per gallon on the highway and 27 mpg in the city. And if you use that estimate and do the math with the Altima’s 18-gallon fuel tank, you get an astounding range of more than 600 miles on a tank of regular unleaded gas. If price is one of the top reasons people choose a vehicle, the 2013 Altima with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder costs $21,500, or about $200 less than the 2012 model. Our test vehicle, the 3.5-liter 6-cylinder in the SV trim, starts at $27,780.

Both Altima engines are mated to continuously variable automatic transmissions. The 2.5-liter engine develops 182 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.5-liter V-6 bumps the horsepower to 270 and the torque to 251. Mileage estimates for the 3.5-liter engine are 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

The Altima gets a number of new technologies for 2013, including a standard advanced drive assist display that puts key information on instant mileage, the audio system, a trip computer and turn-by-turn navigation in a 4-inch display right in front of the steering wheel.

Tire pressure monitoring is also displayed, but Nissan takes the mandatory monitoring to the next level with its Easy Fill Tire Alert function. When the driver starts filling a tire, the hazard lamps flash to let the driver know the system is functioning. When the tire reaches the correct pressure, the horn beeps to let the tire-filler know to stop. It’s a neat feature that eliminates the need for fumbling around for a tire pressure gauge.

The Altima also has hands-free phone and streaming audio via Bluetooth, a new blind-spot monitor and lane departure warning system that works off the rearview camera, available remote starting, and smartphone integration via the Nissan Connect system.

Inside the cabin, Nissan engineers used NASA research to develop the front bucket seats. Nissan says the “zero gravity” seats deliver a proven increase in blood flow, decreased muscular load and lower fatigue.

On the road, the Altima with the larger engine delivers great performance and surefootedness, along with a comfortable ride. It has an overall length of 191.5 inches, and overall width of 72 inches, an overall height of 58.1 inches and a turning diameter of 37.4 feet.

The 2013 Altima has not yet been safety tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but has sophisticated safety technology that includes the warning systems for blind spots and lane departure, as well as a moving object detection system that warns the driver when anything is moving behind the car. All three systems work off the rearview camera, which is less costly than other radar-based systems.

With its new technology and features, great mileage and attractive pricing, the 2013 Nissan Altima presents strong value in the highly competitive midsize sedan segment.

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SV